Two early 1920s dresses


Those two dresses were the last things, I finished before the chill catched me. They are inspired by “The House of Eliott”, Season 1.

I was longing to have dresses in that style. And it was a good possibillity, to use the filet-pieces I had collected for years.

I found it never easy to use them, filet is delicate and somehow difficult to work with, but I decided not to run away from that subject this time!

I also used some modern (but high quality!) batiste, pieces from a vintage curtain and lots of antique lace from my stock. Some of the lace and curtain are Art Déco, but others are Art Nouveau….But that´s no objection, because in the 1920s, dressmakers and cotouriers had no scruples to work with lace and fabrics from the decades before! They just used it in a complete different way with new patterns and styles!


That´s what you get….

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…if you watch to much period-drama series!

A month ago I stumbled by chance over “The House of Eliott”. I never knew, this series was existing!

After watching series one, I was so inspired, I just wanted to make some of the cloth and hats for me….But like always in my special universe, it turned out to be completely different. I wanted to begin with something like Evangelines lacy nightgown. So I sewed along, added on and made some small changes, important for me, because I´m a diverse type of woman…And after all, the thing created itself and became a vintage-style summer dress instead of a nightgown….

It´s funny….No matter how hard I try, to stay with the original- in the end it´s ALWAYS completely different! Even if I use very similar materials!

Seems, my own style is to strong, to copy things just like that.

And  maybe that´s the point: Perhaps it MUST be this way!

So don´t try to do exactly the same, that someone else has done before. Go your own way, find your own creative expression and develop yourself!

After the dress, that ought to be a nightgown, I tried again and this time I got something, that´s  useable for a nightgown AND a dress….I´m afraid, it´s hopeless!

Now I work on two versions of  early 1920s lingerie-over gowns, I saw in the series…..And they will be very much my own style again….

And YES it´s recycling! Some of the vintage lace had been used in decades before  or was long forgotten stored in cellars or attics and now comes back to life again!


The Metropolitan-Project: Gown No. 4

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Gown no. 4 ist finished and also my Metropolitan-Project.  This time I chose a asymmetrical  lingerie-gown made of batiste and lots of complete different laces. The gowns skirt was open at one side and some of the  lace had been sewed in a curve. It had also an open space on the front, where the undergown was visible. I couldn´t do the curve, because non of my leftover laces had the right length and some of them are fragil and delicate. But I could do the open space and make a kind of patchwork from all the remaining bits and pieces in my lace-box. Like the original, I let the skirt open at one side. So I can lift it, to sit down without damaging the fine lace.

Of cause there where the common obstacles….I don´t know how many tiny holes I mend and how often I had to change the positions of the lace-items on the pattern, until they fitted perfectly. And the gown is shabby, that´s true. But I don´t care. I´m proud of my antique beautys, no matter their condition.

I like this gown the most of all four. Maybe because it´s so weird. And I should lend it to the rag-princess for the next ball. (I don´t want to imagine, what prince charming says!)

Now, after all is finished, I´m a bit fed up with off-white and ecru and want to go back to COLOR!!!!!

Sometimes you need a second try…

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After finishing gown no. 2, I ascertained, I feel awkward with it. I couldn´t go on with the  extended size of the dress. I had to made it extremly loose, to show the embroidery on the skirt´s center, but it did nothing for me.  And I found the appliques in the middle , that covered some holes and spots, not fine enough. And the roses….No way! So I began again. I was already busy with gown no. 4, so I took the time and changed my wrong-gone no. 2. Now it´s more of my taste.

First I joined a broad ribbon in the waist. so I could draw a satin ribbon through, regulate the width and show the embroidery in the middle at the same time.  Than the unloved appliques had to go. I replaced them with a piece of vintage  Valencienne-lace and tinkered a new decoration for the middle-part from another applique and  some small lace.  It´s still not perfect, but now it looks much better and does more for me.

And what about the “girlish” rose-decoration? I removed it. There will be  a millinery project in future , I can use them for!

The Metropolitan-Project: Gown No. 3


WP_20151122_12_54_07_Pro WP_20151122_12_54_35_Pro WP_20151122_12_54_58_ProDone it! Gown no. 3 is finished! This time there is more resemblance to the vintage item, but I had to use much more modern fabric. I don´t posses some vintage batiste nor tulle, so  I took new cotton net-lace The genuine gown from the Metropolitan Museum is real made of batiste, but I used this material on gown no. 2 and didn´t want to repeat it.  The original gown is also much more embellished with embroideries, but contains no further decorations like roses, ribbons or other flowers. And the sleeves are much shorter, but I found this unflattering. For this project, I could use a long treasured, hand-embroidered silkborder, maybe genuine 1920s. The embroidery is in a very similar style to the orginal and looks really nobel. For the sleeves and the independent decoration in the middle of the front, I used the border-scraps and some perfect matching machine-embroidered crepe-silk….Happy end?

No way! I made a final fitting, took off the dress and in the silence of my room I heard a quiet ripping sound….Now, it seems, to use the perfect matching machine-embroidered crepe-silk wasn´t a good idea after all. The silk is brittle, but I hadn´t noticed it over washing, ironing and finally sewing.  That ment cut off the seams, remove the crepe and find another half-way matching piece of lace, that´s not completely rotten. As you can see on the pictures, I succeeded. Delayed  Happy End after all!WP_20151122_15_39_08_Pro WP_20151122_15_39_20_Pro

The Metropolitan-Projekt: Gown No. 2

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I have finished gown no. 2. There where some obstacles again. And of course,  there is no real resemblance to the original…..But don´t we rise to the occasions?

This time I chose a kind of “appron-gown”.

First I found some unexpected little damages in the intended centerpiece of the skirt. The kind of damages, that couldn´t be mend invisible. so I patched two appliques on, to disguise the holes and spots. The embroidery is very pretty, two smaller areas on both sides and a big embroidery in the middle, but they are adverse located, so I couldn´t  make the folds of the skirt in the same way, the original gown shows. If I had it done this way, most of the embroidery wouldn´t be visible anymore. That ment also, I had to give the upper part of the gown more space, to show of the centerpiece of the skirt. And I had to cheat a little: It was impossible to get some vintage batiste or muslin. So I had to use some modern organic batiste from my stock. Unfortunatly it was not enough for the many folds on both sides of the skirt. So I made as much as possible.

I had no further embroidered pieces for the upper half of the gown, like the one in the front of the skirt. So I used a vintage collar in a similar style for the neckline. And I had also no fabulous lace like the one on the skirt´s edge…. But a beautiful, hand-embroidered cotton-lace.

For the underdress, I use whatever my armoire has in stock: Some simple dresses in different colors.

The rose-bouquet on one side is bigger on the original gown and made in the same way, as the decoration of gown no. 1.  But I didn´t want to repeat it and chose another rose,  made in a style, that had also been popular in the 1920s. The big bow with tulle was too much for my taste. So I leaved it.  But I´m still not satisfied with the decoration. I think, it makes the gown too  “girlie” and I wouldn´t wonder, it the roses find themselves in one of my new millinery-projects soon………

The Metropolitan-Project: Gown No. 1













Actually I should call it my “obstacle-gown”.

From the start, there where some problems. The vintages original (a bridal gown )  included some of the finest, hand-embroidered batiste. Thanks to the californian-treasures, I had a matching piece in the same style and good condition. But it was to broad. To make it fit, I had to  to cut it up and remove some of the embroidery on the edge, which I didn´t want to. That ment, I had to find another one. But all I had, was a hand-embroidered piece in a complete different style.  It´s pretty too, but  matches not half as good, als the other one did. And it was also to broad  But I didn´t want to cut it up either.

So I had to add on another row of lace on the neckline, to prevent the gown from slipping down the shoulders.

The neckline of the genuine gown was very high too. I found that not comfortable and decided to give my version more space.  I also couldn´t  copy the flouncy sideparts, because non of my vintage lace had the right lenght. So I had to adjust the pattern to the existing material.

After that, I found some unexpected little flaws on the net lace, that had to be mend. And than I had to add on some rather rough bobbin-lace, because I hadn´t enough left of the finer ones.

That gives my gown very little resemblance to the original, but I don´t mind. It makes the whole thing more individual.

Certainly, I wear it with some under-gowns in different colors.

At the end I decided to add on a waist-ribbon, because the gown looked much better with a little gathering.

The rose-decoration is handmade from vintage ribbons and the tiny blue flowers handembroidered from old sild thread.

“But”, you would object. “This looks like a night gown!”

That´s right. But the reason ist simple: Till the end of the 1020s, they made no difference in the use of material between girls clothing, womens lingerie, summer dresses and sometimes evening wear. For the whole range, the same lace and fabrics like silk, satin, fine linen or batiste have been wildly mixed. Even the sewing-patterns where nearly the same.

The works of the Callot- und Bouét soeurs  are the best examples. They even used the same embellishments for both, gowns and lingerie. So beholders of today can hardly see the difference.